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Bright and Brief

June 2, 1989

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Remembering numbers is a piece of pi for Srinivasan Mahadevan.

Mahadevan’s extraordinary memory has allowed him to memorize the first 35,000 digits of pi - the theoretically infinite computation of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

Mahadevan, a graduate student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, is trying to become the fourth person to remember the first 100,000 digits of pi and is the subject of a $157,000 federal study at Kansas State University.

Researchers hope to find out how Mahadevan’s amazing memory works. The answer may shed light on how other people remember things.

″We’re hoping to find insights into the average intelligence, too,″ said Rod Vogl, a graduate assistant in charge of administering tests.

Four students with average memories are being studied as a control group. They can usually remember seven to eight numbers that are flashed quickly on a screen or spoken; anything above 10 is considered exceptional. Mahadevan typically tallies about 38 if he sees the numbers, about 50 if hears them.

That’s under clinical conditions. Vogl says Mahadevan usually scores much better - as many as 105 - in the less inhibiting atmosphere of the local watering holes where he has been known to win some astounding bar bets.

The 30-year-old native of Mangalore, India, thinks heredity and his childhood environment both played significant roles. ″My father knows all 37 plays and 150 sonnets of William Shakespeare by heart, so I think there is a genetic basis for it.″

Only three cases of the ability to remember 100,000 digits of pi have been documented in 200 years. One of those people became insane when he became unable to forget anything and his reasoning processes drowned in a flood of facts.


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - What famous redhead won’t work more than 30 to 40 minutes without a break, never works more than two days in a row, yet remains one of the hottest advertising stars on TV?

Morris the Cat kicked off his seven-city tour of animal shelters on Thursday to promote National Adopt-a-Cat Month and a new animal shelter in Des Moines.

Ken Nixon, executive director of the Animal Rescue League of Des Moines, said about 125 people came to see Morris, including 75 Woodlawn School students who had raised $350 for the shelter.

More than 1.3 million cats have been adopted through the annual June promotion since it began 15 years ago, said Bob Martwick, Morris’ trainer. The tour is sponsored by the American Humane Society and 9-Lives Cat Food.

Martwick said both the current Morris and the original Morris, who died about 10 years ago, were found in animal shelters.

The trainer said timing is the hardest part of filming the 9-Live commercials. Because the soundtracks are made first, he said, ″if he (Morris) has to turn his head ... and he’s a half-second off, then it doesn’t work.″

″Sometimes we’ll throw something, try to make a noise. We’ve even had pigeons flapping their wings to get his attention,″ he said.

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